Brew News: Good News from Washington! Seriously!

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Brew News: Good News from Washington! Seriously!

Politics not as usual, the job hunt continues, separation of church and beer, Mississippi gets closer to taproom sales and the most important beers ranked. That’s what happened this past week in craft beer news. Read on for details.

Washington, D.C.: The government likes small brewers

Positive news from our nation’s capital as the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act was reintroduced during the latest session of Congress. The bill, which seeks to reduce federal excise taxes on beer, was presented by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Representatives Erik Paulsen (R-MN) and Ron Kind (D-WI), in their respective chambers of Congress. The bill enjoys bipartisan support and aims to reduce the bureaucratic burden placed on small brewers.

“Small and independent craft brewers are among the leading manufacturers in our country, and over the last few decades have created thousands of well-paying jobs in communities across the United States. The Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act is synonymous with economic development and job creation,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO, Brewers Association via press release. “With the beginning of the new Session of Congress, we are working hard to build support for this bipartisan legislation, which, if enacted, will help breweries all over the country generate more jobs and pour more money back into the economy. Thanks to Senator Wyden and Representative Paulsen for leading this effort. We look forward to working with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and the new Administration to make this great American industry even greater.”

Washington, D.C.: Best job ever filled

Back in the summer of ’16, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History posted a job opening. That position? Beer Historian—at a salary of $64,650. Word spread quickly and the resumes poured in (Full disclosure: I applied for the job). Most applicants probably forgot that they actually applied considering the six months wait, BUT if you were still holding your breath, an email went out on February 1 stating, in part: “Thank you for applying to the Historian position in Brewing History.  Please see the attached letter for the status of your application.  Due to the overwhelming amount of applications, we apologize for the delayed response and unfortunately we were unable to personally respond to every applicant.”

Yes, you had to open an attachment to see your “status.” (Spoiler alert: I did not get the job). Who did get the nod? Theresa McCulla, the former director of Harvard University’s Food Literacy Project. McCulla is set to receive her doctorate from Harvard in American Studies in May and holds a culinary arts diploma from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts’ Professional Chefs Program. Check out our Q&A with McCulla about her new gig here.

Knoxville, Tenn.: Separation of beer and church

If you were going to bet on which party would be trying to overturn an archaic city ordinance related to the proximity of beer sales to churches, the easy money would be on the hooch hawkers. Not so in Knoxville where OneLife Pastor Rodney Arnold argued that the ordinance limited a new church’s ability to find a viable space. The city council voted in November to change the ordinance but an outcry by entrenched churches to keep a booze buffer has opened the door to an amendment to the already amended ordinance. It states that while the current ordinance would remain in place, “established churches away from commercial zones should have the 300 foot distance requirement reinstated.” “The purpose of it is to come back to some middle ground to give some protection to churches not in that (commercial) situation,” Councilman Nick Della Volpe explained to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “Hopefully that scratches the itch for both sides.” However, businesses could bypass the ordinance prior to it being amended by purchasing a liquor license from the state, which does not recognize the distance requirement.

Mississippi: Taproom sales making progress

A bill paving the way for on-site brewery sales in Mississippi passed its first test making it through the House Ways and Means Committee. Currently breweries can offer samples to patrons only after they take a tour and cannot charge for the beer. If the bill makes it to law, breweries producing less than 60,000 barrels per year would be allowed to sell beer in their taproom and up to 576 ounces per day per customer for off-site consumption. The law would also impose caps on beer sold based on the amount of beer produced and require breweries to pay any applicable taxes. It would also increase the cap for brewpubs to around 2,500 barrels per year and remove current brewpub food requirements. Mississippi Brewers Guild executive director, Matthew McLaughlin, told the Oxford Eagle: “It will make Mississippi breweries more competitive in the rapidly changing and global beer industry, which will translate into capital investment and job creation for our Mississippi communities. But more importantly, this bill will strengthen the relationship between Mississippi breweries and their distribution partners.”

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